• Interview With Matt Fox

    Orthophotos Project     Orthophotos Project

    Interview with Matt Fox

    Conducted by Dominic Smith

    The Orthophotos Project

    Hi Matt, thank you for taking the time to talk to FlightSim.Com. Could I begin by asking you (for the benefit of readers who might not be aware) what 'The X-Plane Orthophotos Project' is?

    The project consists of high quality orthophotos combined with 3D overlay data (autogen, roads, trees, etc.) from the HD Mesh Scenery Project by Alpilotx and the best available elevation data from the USGS.

    Orthophotos Project     Orthophotos Project

    I use Ortho4XP to create the packages, which are then distributed via bit torrent. The packages can be easily installed by anyone without any special technical knowledge.

    Matt, how did the project come about?

    I've been using various flight simulators for over 20 years and have always thought orthophotos add a whole new layer of realism to flight simulators.

    When Ortho4XP was released, I realized what a great program it was, but there were some technical challenges for many users. Also, the commonly used orthophoto sources (Bing, Google, etc.) had issues due to inconsistent coloring. I use imagery from the National Agriculture Imagery Program, which has more consistent coloring. I also use higher resolution elevation data than is available by default with Ortho4XP.

    Orthophotos Project     Orthophotos Project

    At first I wasn't sure if the project would be possible due to the challenges of distributing files that are typically 20+ gigabytes in size. The cost of hosting the files on a dedicate server capable of transferring several terabytes of data every day would be extremely high. I decided to give BitTorrents a try as an experiment and fortunately that has worked out well. The community has been great with seeding the BitTorrent files - FlightSim.Com and Aerosoft have also volunteered to help with seeding the files.

    Matt, how much coverage do you intend to do?

    The plan is to do the entire US, including portions of Alaska. I've also done some other countries, such as Mexico and Australia with lower resolution imagery. I'm always looking for new sources of public domain imagery. Maybe I will do other countries with lower resolution imagery.

    Orthophotos Project

    Are all the areas in the same detail, or are some more detailed than others?

    One of the challenges is that Ortho4XP is constantly being improved. For example, the latest release includes a new feature that smooths out airports and I know further updates are planned. Because of this, there are some variations depending on when the package was created. I will eventually upgrade them all to the best available settings, but it will take some time.

    As well as the above, I've also completed a couple of "HD" areas, which use higher resolution imagery and will be looking at doing more of those in the future.

    I've also done some other countries (Mexico and Australia) with lower resolution imagery from the Sentinel-2 project, which covers the entire Earth, but at a lower resolution.


    1 Comment
    1. BigglesG's Avatar
      BigglesG -
      Well done Matt. Great looking snaps
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